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The Witcher 3 (Switch) Hands-on Preview

by Daan Koopman - September 7, 2019, 6:29 pm EDT
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More like The Switcher, amiright? But seriously, the game runs and play very good.

Just knowing that The Witcher 3 is coming to Nintendo Switch is very exciting. The open world action RPG is a meaty experience that gives with an absolutely expensive area to explore. The narrative, which is equally as impressive, gives you various branching paths that can lead you to 36 different endings. The Witcher 3 is a tremendous game with a lot going for it, and playing on the go is obviously very tantalizing. That being said, the big question is how it will run on a mobile platform. At Gamescom 2019, I finally got my question answered and the results were quite positive overall.

If you’ve never played The Witcher 3, here’s the deal. It’s an action game played from a third-person perspective. By controlling Geralt of Rivia, you get access to some well established combat options. There are two kinds of swords to play with, some melee combat and five magical spells. The Witcher 3 is all about using these, as well as your movement possibilities, to explore the Continent. The fantasy world sees all kinds of creatures co-exist, but a war is seemingly ripping the world apart. Geralt will be aided by various allies to uncover the Wild Hunt, a group of specialized warriors, as well as his adopted daughter Ciri. The world itself has countless things to keep you busy, with missions, minigames and NPCs waiting at every step.

Instead of focusing on features though, I rather discuss how the game performs on Nintendo Switch. The game was taxing on other platforms, something that won't come as a surprise to those with the technical know how. On Switch, the game normally sits around in the range 30 frames per second, particularly if you are playing while docked. In handheld mode, frames per second will dip by a slight margin once in awhile, but not by much. The draw distance, might be a bit less from the other consoles, but the amount you can see impressed me. Every enemy and NPC remains rendered as before too, though they will pop in once you're closer to them.

In the grand scheme of things, I am rather impressed by how the game scales to the system. While impressive ports are quite common on Switch, the compromises made didn't effect The Witcher 3 as much as I thought. In fact, when talking to the developers, they mostly said that it came down to working around the memory inside the hybrid console. It took a lot of time to ensure that cutscenes and such elements would perform to their high standards. Add to the fact that the entire game, plus downloadable content, fits on a singular 32GB card. I was just left very impressed with the work done by Saber Interactive, who made the game run on a less powerful system than it’s used to.

While playing on Switch, both docked and in handheld, I immediately felt transported back to The Continent. I've spent a silly amount of time on the Xbox One version, and everything felt like I remembered it. That being said, I found it hard to keep track of the enemies in handheld mode. As most are of equal stature as Geralt, they might become difficult to spot sometimes. Text, on the other hand, was surprisingly readable and gave me zero issues. On the television, you see the imperfections of the port a bit more, but the fact that I can pick it up and walk out the door with it remains incredibly novel.

The Witcher 3 seems to run quite well on Nintendo Switch. While certain elements needed to be changed, I can't help but be impressed with the work done. On a television, it runs on a solid 720p and 30fps, which really isn't bad at all. While handheld lowers the resolution to 540p and has some rougher edges, I couldn't help but devote even more hours to the title. It helps that The Witcher 3 is such an incredible game, with tons of stories and gameplay elements to explore. When the game launches on October 15, I'm ready to go all in.

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Game Profile

Genre RPG
Developer Saber Interactive

Worldwide Releases

na: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition
Release Oct 15, 2019
PublisherCD Projekt Red
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